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All about Parenting Toddlers , Issue #015 - How to teach your toddler to share
July 24, 2003

Welcome to another issue of All about Parenting Toddlers. Hope you like the articles here.

Shaping the life of your precious ones

All about Parenting Toddlers
Issue #015
24th July 2003

In This Issue:

1. How to teach your toddler to share
2. Parenting is all about communication
3. Car Safety for Children

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How to teach your toddler to share

What to expect at this age

"Mine!" your toddler shouts, grabbing a doll from her playmate. No sooner have you smoothed out that squabble than another erupts. "No!" your child yells as her visitor picks up her favorite ball and rolls it across the floor. As far as you're concerned, your kid is acting selfish and bossy, and if she keeps it up she's likely to wind up friendless.

As exasperating as these episodes can be, try to be philosophical about them. Your toddler is acting in perfect keeping with a 2-year-old's view of the world, in which her own things (or anything that strikes her fancy, for that matter) are an extension of herself. "Toddlers are beginning to understand possession, and they are developing a strong sense of self, which make mine and no two of their favorite words," says Roni Leiderman, associate dean of the Family Center at Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

Of course, some toddlers are happy by nature to give a pal one of their cookies, but most are more possessive. In fact, many 2-year-olds aren't developmentally ready to share. Sure, they can play side by side with other kids if you keep a close eye on them, but expect some inconsistencies with give-and-take. Sharing is a learned activity, and mastering it takes some time. Nonetheless, you can introduce your toddler now to the merits of sharing, then build on the groundwork you're laying as she gets older.

What to do

Practice taking turns.
You flip one page of your toddler's bedtime book, and she flips the next. Or you stack a block on top of hers, then she stacks another on top of yours. You could also take turns putting puzzle pieces together or pushing a toy car down a ramp. Try give-and-take games, too: You hug her teddy, then give it to her to hug and return to you. You kiss her teddy, then give it to her to kiss, and so on. She'll begin to learn that taking turns and sharing can be fun and that giving up her things doesn't mean she'll never get them back.

Don't punish stinginess.
If you tell your 2-year-old that she's selfish, discipline her when she doesn't share, or force her to hand over a prized possession, you'll encourage resentment, not generosity. "Never punish a child, especially a toddler, for not sharing," says Susanne Denham, Ph.D., developmental psychology professor at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. "It is, after all, a very personal decision."

Talk it up.
Help your toddler explore the emotions that relate to sharing. If a friend is holding something back, explain to your child how her buddy might be feeling. For instance: "Josie loves her teddy, and she really wants to hug him right now." Help her put her own feelings into words too: "I know you want your doll," or "You're sad because Sofia took your car." Give your toddler plenty of praise when she does loosen her grip on something. At snack time, for instance, remark on how nicely she and her playmate are dividing up the cookies and point out how much fun it is to share a treat with a friend.

Cheer little steps toward sharing.
Toddlers sometimes show their possessions — and even let others touch them — without actually letting go of them. "Encourage this 'proto-sharing' by telling your toddler how nice it is that she's showing her toy," says Denham. Eventually, bolstered by your praise, she'll feel secure enough to loosen her grip.

Set the stage.
If you're expecting pint-size company, have your toddler put her "special" toys away before her friend arrives. In their place, provide playthings that are easy to enjoy in tandem — blocks, tea sets, crayons and coloring books, dress-up clothes, and modeling clay, for instance. Tell your 2-year-old and her visitor that they can share these things, and compliment them when they do. If one of the children is heading for a toy her friend has a death grip on, distract her with a question, a snack, or another toy.

Respect your toddler's things.
If your toddler feels that her clothes, books, and toys are being manhandled, it's unlikely she'll give them up even for a moment. So ask permission before you borrow her crayon, and give her the option of saying no. Make sure that siblings, playmates, and babysitters respect her things too, by asking to use them and by taking good care of them when they do.

Lead by example.
The best way for your toddler to learn generosity is to witness it. So share your ice cream with her. Offer her your scarf to wear, and ask if you can try on her barrette. Use the word share to describe what you're doing, and don't forget to teach her that intangibles (like feelings, ideas, and stories) can be shared too. Most important, let her see you give and take, compromise, and share with others.

The above article is written by Karen Miles, a mother of four in Blairstown, Iowa, who frequently writes about parenting.


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Parenting is all about communication

PARENTS are no strangers to conflict resolution. Bedtime, chores and sibling spats are flash points in every home with young children.

It doesn’t have to be that way, though, author Scott Brown says. By learning to apply some basic negotiating skills, you can quell the arguments – and teach your children some valuable life skills in the process. “If you teach your children to work through conflicts when they are young, it will pay off when they’re older,” says Brown, a founding member of the Harvard Negotiation Project, father of four and author of the just-published How to Negotiate With Kids – Even When You Think You Shouldn’t.

“It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t set limits,” he says; rather, parents should take the time to discuss conflicts with their children and involve the children in devising solutions. Old-fashioned autocratic parenting might work in the short term, he says, but can create undue stress for children and cause them to rebel in adolescence.

Recently, Brown explained his strategy to a group of about 75 parents:

· Start by keeping your emotions in check. “Negotiations are much more difficult with our children because our emotions are wrapped up in them.”

· Next, calm your child. Brown recommends using touch to short-circuit a tantrum, or taking a break before discussing an issue.

· Listen to your child’s perspective. “Children really see things differently. You may hear something that will help you deal with the conflict.”

· Explain your view. “Frame things in terms of what’s important to them.”

· Involve your children in discussions about solutions to problems and the consequences of not complying with a rule. Brown says you might be surprised at how hard they can be on themselves.

· Discipline your child, don’t punish him. “Discipline looks forward, punishment looks back.”

In his book, Brown writes: “Good discipline, like all good teaching, changes the way children think. Punishment, on the other hand, focuses on behaviour, not the motivation for that behaviour. Changing behaviour may end the conflict. But only changing the way your kids think will prevent future problems and conflicts.”

So instead of arbitrarily grounding your pre-teen for a particular offence, involve her in devising a consequence for her actions.

Lastly, some things – health and safety issues, family morals and values – are non-negotiable.

So how does Brown’s approach work? Say that during a morning trip to the grocery store, your child whines for a lollipop despite a long-standing family rule banning candy before lunch. Rather than blow your top, you should take a deep breath; head outside or to a different part of the store with your child (even sit on the floor, Brown says); change your tone of voice and touch your child – pull him into your lap, caress his arm; review your rule about eating candy; listen to your child’s reason for demanding the sweet (maybe he really wants to buy it for later); and work with the child to devise an acceptable solution – maybe buying the lollipop and putting it away until after lunch.

Brown acknowledges that negotiating is time-consuming, but says the investment is worth it. “I believe these ideas will help you build stronger relationships with your children, the kind that will keep you close for years to come,” he writes in the introduction to his book.


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Car Safety for Children

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death in children in the United States. This horrible statistic is made worse when we discover that 75% of child fatalities and 50% of child injuries could be eliminated with the consistent and correct use of child safety seats and safety belts. Educate yourself about your responsibility as a caregiver/parent to provide the children in your care with the protection that law and common sense dictate. When you drive with children in the car, children must be in safety seats and belts and in them correctly.

Placing children in safety seats is not the end of the problem. Statistics indicate that up to 50% of children who are placed in seats may be placed incorrectly. This can lead to injury or death. It is important to educate yourself in order to protect your child. Safety seats are safety equipment! Buy the correct child seat according to the child's weight, height, and developmental ability. Check safety seat and vehicle safety belt system compatibility. If buying second hand, ensure that the seat has not been in an accident, that it meets federal standards, has all necessary belts, buckles, and clips and that manufacturer directions are available. If it is missing any of the mentioned, pass it by. Not all child seats can be installed in all vehicles and all seating positions. With numerous models of child seats, almost 300 models of passenger vehicles, and the wide range of belt systems available today, correctly installing a child seat can be challenging. The best way to be sure your child seat is compatible with the vehicle you are considering is to test it before you purchase or lease the vehicle. Be sure to read the child seat's instruction manual and review all information in the vehicle owner's manual concerning correct installation.

Once the seat is installed, check it by firmly pulling the base of the child seat from side to side and forward. The child seat should not move more than one inch in any direction.

Whether you have a front passenger side air bag in your vehicle or not, remember that children are always safer in the back seat.

When children out-grow forward-facing safety seats, they need to be restrained in belt-positioning booster seats - until they are big enough to fit properly in an adult seat belt. Children who cannot sit with their backs straight against the vehicle seat back cushion, with knees bent over a vehicle's seat edge without slouching, are not big enough for adult seat belts. Many Parent skip this very important step. Children generally outgrow convertible child safety seats when they are about 40 lbs. From 40 to about 80 lbs. and about 4'9" tall, children should always be seated in a belt-positioning booster; lifting them so adult lap/shoulder seat belts are "positioned" correctly and safely. Plus, booster seats offer children better visibility and comfort.

Conditioning your children at a young age to wear a seatbelt is the only way to go. Not only is your child safer, but the driver will have their attention more on the road and driving then on what their child is doing or getting into.

More tips and guidelines in buying or using child car seats.

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All the best,

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